“It`s The End Of The World As We Know It”

John Brockman, the leading literary
agent for science writers, runs an interesting website
to promote his clients called

Edge.org
. Each year, he asks a question and posts
over 100 responses from prominent researchers and
authors.

For 2006, Brockman asked, at the
suggestion of one of the superstars in his stable,
Harvard professor

Steven Pinker
, author of the bestsellers

How the Mind Works
and

The Blank Slate
:

"WHAT
IS YOUR DANGEROUS IDEA?

"The
history of science is replete with discoveries that were
considered socially, morally, or emotionally dangerous
in their time; the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions
are the most obvious. What is your dangerous idea? An
idea you think about (not necessarily one you
originated) that is dangerous not because it is assumed
to be false, but because it might be true?"

Probably Pinker has been

mulling
this question over since the

Larry Summers brouhaha
a year ago.

Summers, the Harvard president and
former Treasury Secretary, had helped recruit Pinker
away from MIT in 2003 so that he could move from
studying the evolution of language to all of human
nature, in the tradition of Harvard`s grand old man of
the life sciences,

Edward O. Wilson
.

Later, not surprisingly, Pinker

emerged
as the

leading defender
of Summers after the Harvard
President got into

$50 million
worth of

trouble
for

daring to suggest
that discrimination isn`t the only
reason men dominate the science, engineering, and
mathematics faculty at Harvard.

So, here is

Pinker`s
answer to his own question:

"Groups
of people may differ genetically in their average
talents and temperaments"

He`s right.

Very few
tenured Harvard professors have the courage
to bring up such politically incorrect questions.

Perhaps Pinker read in a 2004
VDARE.com

article
what one of his most distinguished
predecessors in the Harvard Psychology department, the
late Richard Herrnstein (co-author of The Bell Curve),

said
upon being granted tenure at Harvard. According
to Charles Murray`s

obituary
:

“For
Dick, being a tenured professor at Harvard was not just
the perfect job, but the perfect way to live his life.

“It was
too good to be true; there had to be a catch. What`s my
part of the bargain? he had asked himself.

“`And I
figured it out,` he said, looking at me with that
benign, gentle half-smile of his. `You have to tell the
truth.`

Pinker cites four examples from
2005, each of which we`ve devoted one or more articles
to here at VDARE.com:

  • "In January, Harvard
    president

    Larry Summers
    caused a firestorm when he cited
    research showing that women and

    men
    have non-identical statistical distributions
    of cognitive abilities and life priorities.  

  • "In March, developmental
    biologist

    Armand Leroi
    published an op-ed in the New
    York Times
    rebutting the conventional wisdom
    that race does not exist. (The conventional wisdom
    is coming to be known as

    Lewontin`s Fallacy
    : that because most genes may
    be found in all human groups, the groups don`t
    differ at all. But patterns of correlation
    among genes do differ between groups, and different
    clusters of correlated genes correspond well to the
    major races labeled by common sense.)

  • "In June, the Times
    reported a forthcoming

    study
    by physicist

    Greg Cochran
    , anthropologist Jason Hardy, and
    population geneticist

    Henry Harpending
    proposing that Ashkenazi Jews
    have been biologically selected for high
    intelligence, and that their well-documented genetic
    diseases are a by-product of this evolutionary
    history.

Pinker notes:


"Advances in genetics and genomics will soon provide the
ability to test hypotheses about group differences
rigorously."

Pinker concludes that this prospect

"… is
one that the current intellectual community is
ill-equipped to deal with."

For the purveyors of the reigning
dogmas, who have devoted decades to

demonizing
anyone who points out the impact of
genetic diversity on modern life as a threat to
civilization, the onrushing tidal wave of DNA evidence
must seem apocalyptic.

In the words of R.E.M`s hit

1987 song
, to the predominant intellectuals,

"It`s the end of the world as we know it."

According to Pinker:


"Whether or not these hypotheses hold up (the evidence
for gender differences is reasonably good, for ethnic
and racial differences much less so), they are widely
perceived to be dangerous. Summers was subjected to
months of vilification, and proponents of ethnic and
racial differences in the past have been targets of
censorship, violence, and comparisons to Nazis. Large
swaths of the intellectual landscape have been
reengineered to try to rule these hypotheses out a
priori
(race does not exist, intelligence does not
exist, the mind is a blank slate inscribed by parents)."

For example, the late

Stephen Jay Gould
,
Edward O. Wilson`s arch-rival
at Harvard and long the literary world`s favorite
scientist, was

celebrated
for his two big ideas:

These assertions might strike you
or me as potentially contradictory. But logical
consistency is not much valued in today`s

media marketplace.
According to his widow`s

malpractice suit
against his doctor, Gould

"earned
$300,000 a year from speaking engagements alone, that `a
seven-figure income was his norm,` and that when he died
he was about to enter into a book contract for more than
$2 million."

One of Gould`s most prominent
successors at telling the intelligentsia what they want
to hear about human evolution is UCLA geographer and
physiologist

Jared Diamond
. He is "the
epitome of the celebrity scientist
"

according to his lecture agent.

Before attaining that exalted
status, Diamond developed many interesting and useful

ideas
. But the notion that made his fortune was,
predictably, among his weakest.

In his 1997 Pulitzer Prize-winner


Guns, Germs, and Steel
(which he modestly subtitled The Fates
of Human Societies
), Diamond set out to disprove
what he defined as "racism." Ruling out a
priori
the concept that genetic differences might
contribute to say, the wealth of Europe versus the
poverty of New Guinea as too

"loathsome"
to consider, he attempted to affirm
the empirical equality of humanity by showing the
environmental inequality of the continents.

Diamond laboriously demonstrated
how divergent the continents are. But, as I

pointed out in 1997
, this merely raised an obvious
question that he had no answer for: If the continents
are so disparate, wouldn`t the various families of
humans naturally become genetically adapted to their
wildly differing homelands through natural selection?

Unfortunately for the old guard,
there are numerous ambitious young scientists out there
who view smashing the prevailing prevarications as great
fun. One of them told me last week how lucky he is to be
working in the field of genetics in 2006—when new data
is pouring in every week, and major discoveries are
lying around waiting to be picked up, like gold nuggets
in the

Sierra Nevada streams
in 1849.

And will all this mean, as the
conventional wisdom retailers darkly warn, Armageddon,
the end of the world as we know it?

Hardly.

As Pinker told me in

2002
:

"People
are surely better off with the truth. Oddly enough,
everyone agrees with this when it comes to the arts.
Sophisticated people sneer at feel-good comedies and
saccharine romances in which everyone lives happily ever
after. But when it comes to science, these same people
say, `Give us schmaltz!` They expect the science of
human beings to be a source of emotional uplift and
inspirational sermonizing."

What the researchers are uncovering
as they scrape away the blather of the Goulds and
Diamonds is a world we already more or less know, the
one we all live in every day.

The human race has its flaws. But
the truth about ourselves is not so horrible that we
must be shielded from it by self-appointed sages who get
rich

fabricating falsehoods.

As R.E.M.

sang
:

It`s
the end of the world as we know it.
It`s
the end of the world as we know it.

It`s
the end of the world as we know it,
And I
feel fine. 


[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and


movie critic
for


The American Conservative
.
His website


www.iSteve.blogspot.com
features his daily
blog.]